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DIMPLES (director: William A. Seiter; screenwriters: Nat Perrin/Arthur Sheekman; cinematographer: Bert Glennon; editor: Herbert Levy; music: Jimmy McHugh/Ted Koehler; cast: Shirley Temple (Sylvia ‘Dimples’ Dolores Appleby), Frank Morgan (Prof. Eustace Appleby), Robert Kent (Allen Drew), Helen Westley (Mrs. Caroline Drew), Astrid Allwyn (Cleo Marsh), Delma Byron (Betty Loring), Berton Churchill (Col. Jasper Loring), Stepin Fetchit (Cicero), John Carradine (Swindler); Runtime: 79; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Nunnally Johnson/Darryl F. Zanuck; Fox Video; 1936)
“Shirley wows us with her cuteness.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

In William Seiter’s (“Stowaway”/”Roberta”) endearing Shirley Temple vehicle, the biggest box office hit of 1936, Shirley wows us with her cuteness. It’s set in New York in the 1850s (pre-Civil War) and Shirley is Dimples Appleby who dwells in poverty in the Bowery with her reprobate grandfather, Professor Eustace Appleby (Frank Morgan), and their stammering lazy dolt of a black servant Cicero (Stepin Fetchit). Along with other street urchins, She puts on song-and-dance street shows while the Professor passes the hat around and works the crowd as a pickpocket.

The Professor hooks the kids up to perform at the mansion of the upper-crust Mrs. Caroline Drew (Helen Westley) and robs the house while the kids perform. The innocent Dimples remains behind and is nabbed by the police, but the rich socialite takes a liking to her and offers her cake. This leads the professor to return the furs he stole without revealing he was the thief. But the Professor can’t resist stealing a cuckoo clock, which Dimples returns the next day and says she stole it. That’s when Caroline’s heart is won over and she decides to adopt her and offers the Professor $5,000.

Meanwhile Allen Drew (Robert Kent) is living with his Aunt Caroline and though engaged to pretty socialite Betty Loring (Delma Byron) is in love with Broadway actress Cleo Marsh (Astrid Allwyn). This leads to Betty breaking off the engagement. Allen also is financially backing the show Cleo is in, which is disgraceful to auntie that a swell be involved with the lowlife showbiz crowd. Dimples gets a part as Eva in the showing of Uncle Tom’s Cabin thanks to Allen’s connections, as the moppet wows them on Broadway in the black-faced minstrel show (politically incorrect for modern audiences).

The cute and talented child gets back with her nearest relation when she learns the kindly Professor truly loves her and leaves the angelic dowager when realizing how boring she is. Both Allen and Dimples find out by the conclusion who really loves them most in this battle over love and family values.

The studio turned out Shirley pics on a regular basis as slickly made money makers. In 1936 they turned out four such lightweight feel-good formulaic pics and all were successful with the Depression audiences. With Shirley at her prime in this acceptable one, she sings “Hey, What Did the Bluejay Say?”, “He Was a Dandy”, “Picture You Without Me”, “Get On Board”, and “Oh Mister Man Up In The Moon.” In a group medley Shirley also sings “Dixie-Anna.”


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”